As annoying as it may be when folks type in all capital letters, when was the last time the text version of yelling made you tremble in fear? Well, the quivering students at Leeds Trinity University in the United Kingdom can breathe a sigh of relief. The British newspaper Express reported that professors received a memo, advising against the use of capital letters for the sake of their pupils:
“Despite our best attempts to explain assessment tasks, any lack of clarity can generate anxiety and even discourage students from attempting the assessment at all.
Generally, avoid using capital letters for emphasis and “the overuse of ‘do’, and, especially, ‘DON’T’.”
To readers of Liberty Nation, such snowflake attitudes hardly come as a surprise. We have previously reported how a top British academic institution had to toilet train its students. It makes perfect sense that these people may fear capital letters and words like “don’t.”
The university quickly responded to the story, however, and said that they had not banned capital letters. The vice-chancellor, Professor Margaret A. House, explained that “we follow national best practice teaching guidelines and the memo cited in the press is guidance from a course leader to academic staff, sharing best practice from the latest teaching research to inform their teaching.”
A member of the staff who wished to remain anonymous told the Yorkshire Evening Post that “nobody has banned it but there are guidelines advising us not to use capital letters which is absolutely ludicrous.”
The fact that some tabloids used the word “ban” to describe the guidelines was sufficient for it to be declared false by fact checking website Truth or Fiction? British newspaper the i reported it the same way.
This case gives a unique insight into how the leftist legacy media brands a story as fake news. Most outlets correctly reported the truth, and even the tabloids guilty of hyperbole with the term “ban” were otherwise accurate. The main thrust of the memo was that students are brittle babies who are discouraged by harsh instructions like “do” or “don’t,” especially when capitalized, and that the staff, therefore, were advised to refrain from such language.
The “best practice” espoused by the memo is based on a false theory of human nature. In his book Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, author Nassim Taleb shows that humans are neither robust nor fragile. Fragile entities are easily destroyed by stress or perturbation, whereas robust systems don’t break easily. Organisms, however, are “antifragile,” meaning that they become stronger by being poked and stressed a little bit, but not too much once.
Think about muscles. If you don’t use them, they atrophy. If we stress them within reasonable boundaries – train them – they grow stronger. Psychologists almost unanimously agree that people who suffer from anxiety make things worse by avoiding what they fear. Instead, the best way to treat anxiety and phobia is to confront it.
As such, the content of the memo is not good for the students. Shielding them from stress and challenges – such as capital letters – will only weaken them and amplify their anxiety and sensitivity. The real story isn’t that a prominent university is “banning” capital letters, or that some outlets engaged in a little hyperbole. It’s that Leeds Trinity is doing their allegedly adult students a great disservice by coddling them like children.